PCBs from Space to Snow Plowing OnTrack Newsletter February 2018

Judy Warner
|  Created: February 26, 2018  |  Updated: September 25, 2020
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On Track Newsletter
February 2018 VOL. 1 No 11

Welcome to the February edition of the Altium® On Track Newsletter. There is justifiable concern in our industry about where the next generation of PCB designers will come from. Estimates show that in approximately ten years, 50% of currently working PCB designers will be retiring—which is an alarming statistic!

Since joining Altium exactly one year ago, I have seen overwhelming evidence from around the globe of emerging designers and technologies that are indeed giving rise to the next generation.

In this month’s edition, you will find two such examples. In Rock Stars and Superheroes, you will meet James MacKinnon who just joined NASA 18 months ago after a stellar experience in an NSF-funded laboratory during his master’s program at the University of Florida.

In Startup Snapshot, you’ll hear about a new and novel robotics application that was inspired in part by kids in the FIRST robotics competitions.

John Magyar takes to the whiteboard once again in On Track Video Series to discuss embedded active and passive components.

Finally, we top it all off this month with some excellent Brain Food and Regional News to keep you sharp and in the know.

Enjoy and always...stay On Track!

Director of Community Engagement
Highlighting Exceptional PCB Designers
James MacKinnon always dreamed of working at NASA. He was inspired at a young age by his dad (and fellow EE), as well as countless space shuttle launches he would watch from his backyard in Jacksonville, Florida. After working on CubeSats in an NSF-funded research center and completing his master’s degree at the University of Florida, he got snatched up by NASA just 18 months ago. In this interview, MacKinnon describes his unconventional path to NASA which all began at a dead-end job at Sears.
Highlighting Intriguing Electronics-based Startups
Left Hand Robotics was founded in 2016 in Longmont, Colorado. The company was created to design commercial-class robots that help companies by reducing the cost of labor-intensive snow clearing. The founders were inspired by their involvement in FIRST Robotics and their disdain for continually shoveling snow from their own sidewalks and driveways. In this interview, I talk with EE Shane Zinner about the multi-function board he designed that powers the Snowbot. He also shares the source of their unique name and how they are helping commercial companies address the persistent need to keep their facilities and surroundings free of snow.
Embedded Components: Actives and Passives
John Magyar returns to the whiteboard to discuss embedded components.

About Author

About Author

Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry for over 25 years. She has a background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing, focusing on Mil/Aero applications. 

She has also been a writer, blogger, and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, PCB007 Magazine, PCB Design007, PCD&F, and IEEE Microwave Magazine, and an active board member for PCEA (Printed Circuit Engineering Association). In 2017, Warner joined Altium as the Director of Community Engagement. In addition to hosting the OnTrack Podcast and creating the OnTrack Newsletter, she launched Altium's annual user conference, AltiumLive. Warner's passion is to provide resources, support, and advocate for PCB Design Engineers worldwide.

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